I learned this from one of the masters of public speaking education years ago when I lived in Washington, DC: Merrie Spaeth. She even nominates people who say dumb things in public like this to her “Bimbo Awards.”
So to hear (and read) the FDA commissioner, Andrew von Eschenbach state that “No one is buying the FDA,” I can only hear one word: “buying.”
And with good reason. Doctors are very aware of the effects of lunches bought for our offices by drug companies, of the costs of “free” pens and brochures littering our waiting rooms, and of the effect free samples of drugs distributed to our offices has regarding drug choice. These methods coerce, manipulate, and entice both the physician and patient. To think otherwise is foolhardy.
So it is interesting to hear a similar mantra from the good Commissioner as he relishes the windfall his agency is about to inherit:
"The FDA knows that our actions and our decisions require adequate resources," he added. "We are not focused on where the resources come from, but only the purpose for which those resources are in fact necessary - to protect and promote the health of the public we serve."They are not focused on where the resources come from?
Well I believe they should be acutely focused.
Particularly since public confidence demands that FDA officials and their “expert panelists” remain impartial and unbiased regarding not only their review of drug approval trials, but for post-market safety monitoring of drugs. The fact that the FDA has “negotiated” a proposal with drug companies for the fees already suggests the companies got something in return. You see, the mere suggestion that the drug companies must “pay to play” is worrisome and erodes public confidence.
Congress must step up to the plate here. The FDA has the unenviable position of raining on the drug companies’ parties frequently in the name of public safety. But once the FDA is bankrolled by the pharmaceutical and device industries, these industries will own its very existence.
Is this what we want?